Sunday, 15 June 2014

Speedo Wet Suit Review and my First Open Water Swim

HI to all the RG readers....it's time to chat about wetsuits and open water swims for all the newbies (including myself) out there!

It's my super hero costume!
Because I'm not really sure how many triathlons/open water swims I'll be doing in the future, I didn't want to spend a lot on a wet suit.  I searched a few sites online and the cheapest I could find was $150 and that was with a huge promo code.  Enter good ol' Canadian Tire.

Brand:   Speedo
Thickness:  3mm, except under the arms where it is 2mm for easier swimming ability
Color:  It's got purple in it....yay!
Price:  $92.99 on sale from $129. 99 - yup...under $100

I was a bit nervous for this first open water swim.  I mean, I grew up around water my entire life...I swam in the ocean, in lakes, in rivers, and in pools.  BUT....we all know that as children and adolescents, our fear scale is on the low end.  As we grow older, we tend to gain more knowledge (notice how I send tend to...hehe) and are more aware of dangers in our younger actions. 

The weather was beautiful on the day of my first swim....sunny and 22 with a slight wind.  Water temperature had been reported to be about 17 degrees Celsius for the lake.  When I arrived, there were people in the lake without wetsuits...I immediately thought they were cra-cra!  No way you were getting me in there without one!!! 


I pulled on the suit and waited for my training partner to arrive.  As I looked at the lake, and across at the landmarks, I thought...boy...that's a long way across!  G arrived and took the water temperature.  20 freaking degrees...yup...that's right...20.  2 more degrees and wet suits would be banned from any competition I'd be swimming in.  As G sat down to pull on his wetsuit, I immediately realized mine was on backwards.  Now before you all go snickering...it's a very easy thing to do if you aren't thinking.  In our everyday wear, the tag goes in the back, and the zipper goes in the front...unconsciously putting on wetsuit follows the same rules.  Oooops!  Switch that around, pull on the swim cap, and away we go.

You know when you get in the lake...if you don't jump right in...well you're screwed.  LOL  I inched my way in...feeling the water slip between the layer of my skin and the wet suit.... Brrrrr.  Up around my belly...eeeek...and finally the arms.  The one thing I immediately recognized was that floating was SUPER easy in the wetsuit....my body didn't want to stay vertical.  This eased some concern as I could float easily to catch my breath if needed.

G talked about 'sighting' in an open water swim.  You see, in a pool, you have a dark line on the bottom and lane markers to ensure that you swim in a fairly straight line.   There is none of that in open water and therefore you need to pick something in the distance and 'sight' that as you swim.  Add to this the fact that we all naturally pull to one side when we swim and you're basically fighting a diagonal course your entire swim.   Ideally you want to sight every 6-8 strokes at first.  As you get more comfortable, you can lengthen the amount of strokes between sightings.   Sighting involves lifting your head slightly forward and spotting 'your mark' to ensure you are still on course.  You want to make it as fluid as possible so as to not disturb your rhythm.
 
That tall tree was my first 'sighting' spot
The next fear I had to conquer was that I was in the middle of the lake and could not see what was beneath me.  I had been assured that this was the best lake for my first open swim as there were no weeds, leaches, or large fish.  The fish and leaches don't bother me...but the weeds...nothing freaks me out more when I'm swimming then to have something suddenly touch my feet!

A few front crawl strokes into my swim and I realized I'd been a bit na├»ve in thinking that swimming in a wet suit was the same as swimming without one.  #1 - wetsuits are t-i-g-h-t and because of that, a bit more constricting; #2 - the arms of the wetsuit fill with water....duh....and this makes them heavier when pulling them out of the water for front crawl.  This girl needs to work on her arm muscles!  Enter XHIT's total arm workout!

And no...that's not me...but I'll get there!
The plan for this open water swim was to simply get used to the wet suit and on swimming in open water...the middle of the lake in this case.  We swam from one end to the other which is approximately 500m one way.  I mostly did breaststroke, mixing it up with crawl. 

So how did the suit hold up??  The sleeves are a little short...not sure if that is design or not but overall the fit was great.  Did it keep me warm?  It did.  The only part of my body that got cold were my hands and feet (which weren't covered) near the very end of the swim...but after 45 minutes in the lake...I think that would happen anyways.  Because the lake was warm, I'm not sure how the wetsuit (or myself) would hold up in lower temperatures.  I do know that at lower temperatures, 2 swim caps would have been needed.  If you are searching for a wetsuit for spring to fall conditions, I think this one (or similar) would work. 

Home to slip into cozy PJ's and eat warm chilli and tea.  The weather for my first open swim was ideal, but now I need to choose a less than ideal day to swim.  G was saying that if the waves are higher, then you may need to flip onto your back to catch your breath or open up your crawl more so that you arm extends directly over your head.  I think that will take some practice!

Am I over my fears of open water swims?  Nope...it will take a few more times to rid the anxiety of not being able to instantly touch, or that a lake monster might grab my toes....KIDDING of course...there are no lake monsters (and that's what I'll tell anyone who tries to talk to me about the Loch Nest Monster).

So there you have it....my first open water swim.  There will need to be a few more workouts before I tackle the 1 km open swim on June 28th.  That day will be a double 'bling' day for me with a 5km in the morning and the swim in the afternoon....gotta push those limits!!!

Do any of you fear open water swims??

6 comments:

  1. Awesome!! Thanks so much for posting this review - very helpful! That's a really great price - glad it's working out ok. I never would have thought to look at Canadian Tire.

    Apparently there is a new open water sprint triathlon in Porters Lake in August this year. It's a bit better timing for me than Shubie so I might try to do something in it - we'll see. Are you training for anything after the epic swim?

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    1. I just checked that out. Looks promising. :-) I need to get some open water experience for sure before Shubie Doobie or Porter's Lake. Mass starts scare me!

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  2. The first time I wore a wetsuit I nearly put it on backwards, too!

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    1. At least I didn't do it before a race!

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  3. Great job on your open water swim! I still have some trepidation with the first OWS of the year but with a little practice it does get better. Good luck training!

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    1. Thanks so much....I am hoping you are right....I'm still scared of windy conditions!

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